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20 Fantasy Thoughts: Hard to rely on Jack Campbell with fantasy playoffs approaching

It’s that time of year when considering fantasy playoff schedules is paramount.

Working hard all season long to get into the playoffs and then having things derailed by a bad schedule can be devastating.

So, while you’re projecting what your lineup will look like in mid-March, it’s crucial to keep the upcoming trade deadline in mind. Just because someone has a good playoff schedule right now, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way after the deadline. 

Take someone like Nick Bjugstad, for example. The Arizona Coyotes forward has a great playoff schedule with a bunch of games in the middle of the month and could be a good add in deep leagues for his category coverage, but what if he gets traded? Bjugstad, and his cheap contract, could be an attractive option for a team like the Florida Panthers or Detroit Red Wings for their playoff push, though they both play just twice during what most leagues will use as the first playoff week. 

It’s great to plan ahead, but don’t look too far beyond what’s right in front of you either. Always have a contingency plan in case things change drastically at the deadline. 

1. In the battle for the Calgary Flames crease, I’m starting to think the winner might be no one. Both Dan Vladar and Jacob Markstrom have a sub .900 save percentage on the season and neither has shown any real consistency lately. Markstrom has posted an .855 in February, while Vladar is sporting an .845.

Compounding the problem is the Flames are struggling as a whole and wins are few and far between. This isn’t even a Martin Jones situation from earlier in the year where his overall numbers were bad, but he was still picking up a lot of wins. Getting a quality start from a Calgary goalie is a real challenge. Unless the Flames start playing much better, you may have to start considering other options between the pipes. 

2. Ryan Hartman suddenly has five points in his past four games. The Minnesota Wild have been rotating through different centres between Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, as Hartman lost his grip on the job earlier this season. It looks like Hartman has won the job back as no one seemed to be able to provide any consistent offence in that role. It might be time to circle back and see if Hartman is still available. 

3. The Boston Bruins swung a massive deal Thursday that should pay big dividends in the Stanley Cup playoffs, though I don’t know how much of a fantasy impact Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway will have in their new home. Both are good for hits but points really aren’t their speciality. Maybe Orlov gets a bit of a bump if he plays with Charlie McAvoy, but it’s likely not enough to rush out and grab him off waivers.

4. Don’t look now, but Joonas Korpisalo is playing some really good hockey. Korpisalo has a .913 save percentage over his past five outings and has been a quality start machine since the new year. He’s a great streaming option, though my only concern is if he gets moved at the deadline. Korpisalo might end up with a better team, but he’ll probably play a lot less and be confined to a backup role. If you’ve been counting on him recently, I actually think you want him to remain with the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

5. Maybe you can utilize Korpisalo to help offset a struggling Jack Campbell. The Edmonton Oilers netminder has lost his game again, giving up four goals in four straight games and bottoming out with an ugly outing against the lowly Blue Jackets on Saturday. With the fantasy playoffs fast approaching and teams trying to secure playoff spots, it’s simply too risky a time of year to count on Campbell.

There should be better options available on waiver wires at this point, even as thin as the wires are. You could also just open up Campbell’s spot for a streaming option and add goalies with favourable matchups. Even netminders like Connor Ingram and John Gibson could be considerations. Both face a ton of shots and can help you in the saves category if nothing else. There just isn’t enough time left to hold onto Campbell with the hopes he’ll find his game.

6. We’ve talked a bit about how there’s value in players getting a look on bad teams late in the season, and Mikey Eyssimont of the San Jose Sharks is certainly an example of that. His shot volume has been through the roof over his past 10 games, averaging nearly four shots per contest over this stretch. Eyssimont is getting time on the top line and has some offensive upside. Keep him in mind as a streaming option.

7. It’s been a rough stretch for Nikolaj Ehlers. His ice time is plummeting, and he was even bumped down to the third line recently. The Winnipeg Jets forward has only hit 15 minutes of ice time once in the past five games. Rick Bowness is a great coach, but he hasn’t exactly been known to work wonders for players’ fantasy value throughout a roster. Ehlers looked like he was poised for a huge second half, so hopefully, this deployment isn’t going to continue for the rest of the season. 

8. Another benefit to the Toronto Maple Leafs adding Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari is the improved penalty killing. The Leafs haven’t allowed a power-play goal since the duo arrived and have killed off 20 in a row overall. That’s really going to help Ilya Samsonov and Matt Murray’s numbers when he gets back. 

9. Does this Seth Jarvis points run finally have staying power? Jarvis has had a few small bursts this season, but seven points in his past five games on a top line that is really clicking seems a bit different. Keeping up this pace won’t happen, but if Jarvis is even close to a point-per-game player for the rest of the regular season, he’ll be a must-have during the fantasy playoffs.

10. Detroit plays a rare five times next week. Try to take advantage of it with streamers if you can, just beware the Red Wings also play only twice in the first fantasy playoff week. So, I wouldn’t drop anyone you’ll want for the playoffs if your post-season spot is secure. 

11. He’s been overshadowed by the emergence of Pyotr Kochetkov, but Antti Raanta has been excellent this year. He’s posted three shutouts on the season and is 15-0-2 in his past 17 games. Raanta is tough to roster because he’s playing so infrequently, but he’s been money when given a chance. 

12. There’s a lot to like about Ross Colton lately. He does a little bit of everything for the Tampa Bay Lightning: scoring 13 times this season, getting power-play time, and posting solid hits and shots numbers. He’s also got triple eligibility at forward. If you’re in a deep league I’d consider bringing Colton aboard for a playoff push. 

13. Linus Ullmark scored a very rare goalie goal Saturday. Nobody can convince me these shouldn’t count for fantasy, even though very few leagues do. If one of your goalies scores a goal, you should be rewarded for it.

14. Don’t be fooled by Mikael Backlund playing on the Flames’ third line. His production is nothing like a third-liner, as he just recorded a five-game point streak and has 21 points in 22 games since the new year. If you’re trying to bolster your team to compete for a championship down the stretch, consider adding Backlund to your squad. 

15. There’s been some rumblings that a holdup to a Timo Meier trade with the New Jersey Devils is they don’t want to part with Dawson Mercer. Can you blame them? Mercer looks like he’s finally coming into his own, recording eight goals in the past six games. He’s found a home on the top line with Nico Hischier and Tomas Tatar. If you’re rostering Mercer, you should be hoping he stays with the Devils through the deadline. 

16. I’ve resisted getting too excited for Thomas Novak until he proved he could sustain his production, and he’s starting to make a case for a waiver pickup. Novak has eight points in his past four games and 19 in 25 contests on the year. What makes him more intriguing is the Nashville Predators have a very friendly playoff schedule, playing four times in the first two playoff weeks, including a couple of matchups against teams that rank in the bottom third in the NHL in goals allowed. 

17. I’m torn where J.T. Compher is concerned. Part of me thinks he’ll be a shrewd add given the Colorado Avalanche’s playoff schedule and his recent strong production in the top six, but another part of me worries he’s either going to be sent down the lineup when Gabriel Landeskog returns and when the Avs bring someone in at the deadline. Buyer beware when it comes to Compher. 

18. The Avs also made a minor trade Saturday, acquiring AHL goalie Keith Kinkaid, and my paranoia is setting in. Does this mean Pavel Francouz will be out longer than expected? His injury timeline originally was going to put him back in the lineup right around the fantasy playoffs, making Francouz a great stash. Read into this deal what you will. 

19. Nine points in nine games for Mike Matheson and he’s got a firm grasp on the power play No. 1 spot with the Montreal Canadiens. Not sure how long his production will last but take advantage of it while you can.

20. It sounds like a Patrick Kane trade to the New York Rangers is imminent. This is the best possible scenario if you’ve been stashing Kane and a win for everyone in the Rangers’ top six. Even if Kane bumps someone off the top power-play unit, I still think New York will have two very potent groups to send out there. Of course, nothing is official yet, but it’s hard to help forecast what Kane will be able to do in that lineup given how well he’s been playing lately. It looks like patience paid off if you’ve been holding him.


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